Ru-Rong Ji

Professor in Anesthesiology
Distinguished Professor of Anesthesiology, in the School of Medicine
Professor in Neurobiology
Professor in Cell Biology
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Chronic pain is a major health problem in the US, affecting 100 million Americans. The long-term goal of the lab is to identify molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie the genesis of chronic pain and, furthermore, to develop novel pain therapeutics that can target these mechanisms. We are interested in the following questions. (1) How do neuroinflammation and activation of glial cells (microglia and astrocytes) regulate pain and spinal cord synaptic plasticity via neuro-glial and neuro-immune interactions? (2) How do secreted miRNAs regulate neuronal signaling and synaptic transmission and pain as novel neuromodulators and pain mediators? (3) How do pro-resolution lipid mediators such as resolvins and protectin control pain via GPCR and arrestin signaling? (4) Do pain and itch share similar mechanisms? (5) How does Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling in primary sensory neurons regulate pain and itch? (6) How can bone marrow stem cells produce long-term pain relief via secreting anti-inflammatory and trophic factors? We employ a multidisciplinary approach that covers in vitro, ex vivo, and in vivo electrophysiology, neuronal and glial cell biology, transgenic mice, and behaviors.

Education and Training

  • Chinese Academy of Sciences (China), Ph.D. 1990

Associated Faculty Labs

Department Affiliation

  • Department of Anesthesiology


Furutani, Kenta, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Targeting Hv1 proton channel for pain control.” Cell Res 32, no. 5 (May 2022): 419–20.
Ji, Ru-Rong. “Third Special Issue on Mechanisms of Pain and Itch.” Neurosci Bull 38, no. 4 (April 2022): 339–41.
Lei, Vivian, Chelsea Handfield, Jeffery T. Kwock, Stephen J. Kirchner, Min Jin Lee, Margaret Coates, Kaiyuan Wang, et al. “Skin Injury Activates a Rapid TRPV1-Dependent Antiviral Protein Response.” J Invest Dermatol, January 7, 2022.
Ji, Ru-Rong, and Seok-Yong Lee. “Molecular Sensors of Temperature, Pressure, and Pain with Special Focus on TRPV1, TRPM8, and PIEZO2 Ion Channels.” Neurosci Bull 37, no. 12 (December 2021): 1745–49.
Yeo, Michele, Yong Chen, Changyu Jiang, Gang Chen, Kaiyuan Wang, Sharat Chandra, Andrey Bortsov, et al. “Repurposing cancer drugs identifies kenpaullone which ameliorates pathologic pain in preclinical models via normalization of inhibitory neurotransmission.” Nat Commun 12, no. 1 (October 27, 2021): 6208.
Luo, Xin, Ouyang Chen, Zilong Wang, Sangsu Bang, Jasmine Ji, Sang Hoon Lee, Yul Huh, et al. “IL-23/IL-17A/TRPV1 axis produces mechanical pain via macrophage-sensory neuron crosstalk in female mice.” Neuron 109, no. 17 (September 1, 2021): 2691-2706.e5.
Baldwin, Katherine T., Christabel X. Tan, Samuel T. Strader, Changyu Jiang, Justin T. Savage, Xabier Elorza-Vidal, Ximena Contreras, et al. “HepaCAM controls astrocyte self-organization and coupling.” Neuron 109, no. 15 (August 4, 2021): 2427-2442.e10.
Zhao, Junli, Alexus Roberts, Zilong Wang, Justin Savage, and Ru-Rong Ji. “Emerging Role of PD-1 in the Central Nervous System and Brain Diseases.” Neurosci Bull 37, no. 8 (August 2021): 1188–1202.
Wang, Kaiyuan, Christopher R. Donnelly, Changyu Jiang, Yihan Liao, Xin Luo, Xueshu Tao, Sangsu Bang, et al. “STING suppresses bone cancer pain via immune and neuronal modulation.” Nat Commun 12, no. 1 (July 27, 2021): 4558.
Chen, Yong, Zi-Long Wang, Michele Yeo, Qiao-Juan Zhang, Ana E. López-Romero, Hui-Ping Ding, Xin Zhang, et al. “Epithelia-Sensory Neuron Cross Talk Underlies Cholestatic Itch Induced by Lysophosphatidylcholine.” Gastroenterology 161, no. 1 (July 2021): 301-317.e16.